Avesh Khan had bowled well in patches in the first three T20Is against South Africa but with exciting young talents Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik desperately waiting for their maiden opportunity, it wasn’t going to be enough to hold on to his spot for too long without a significant performance. The tall right-arm fast bowler provided just that in the fourth match in Rajkot, returning with a four-wicket haul and helping India bowl South Africa out for their lowest-ever score of 87 in the shortest format of the game on Friday.
Many, including cricket experts and former players, believed that it was time for India to try out either Arshdeep or Umran in the final two matches of the series as Avesh had gone wicketless but head coach Rahul Dravid and the think tank decided to play an unchanged side for the fourth match in a row, of which the first two had resulted in defeats.
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Avesh said Dravid’s philosophy of not dropping a player after just a couple of bad performances has done a world of good to his confidence.
“The team hasn’t changed over four games, so credit to Rahul (Dravid) sir. He gives chances to everybody and intends to give them a long enough run,” Avesh said at the media interaction on Friday night.
“He doesn’t drop a player after one or two bad performances because you cannot judge a player on the basis of one or two games. Everyone is getting enough matches to prove themselves.
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“Yes, there was pressure on me. I had zero wickets in three games but Rahul sir and the team management gave me another opportunity today and I ended up picking four wickets. It’s also my papa’s birthday, so it’s a gift for him too,” he added.
The 25-year-old decided on his game plan to bowl on what was a tricky pitch after a chat with opener Ishan Kishan.
“Whenever we are batting first, I always end up asking the batters how the wicket played, whether it was two-paced or not.
“I spoke to Ishan (Kishan) today and he said that hard length balls aren’t easy to play; some are bouncing, some are stopping and the others are keeping low. Then I planned to attack the stumps and bowl the hard lengths consistently. It’s in my hands to bowl well, not pick wickets.
“The slower ball wasn’t very effective on today’s wicket, so I tried to bowl hard lengths with the occasional bouncer to change things up.”